She Persisted: Florence Griffith Joyner

Philomel. (She Persisted). Jun. 2021. 80p. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9780593115954; pap. $5.99. ISBN 9780593115961.
Gr 2-5–In this empowering addition to the “She Persisted” children’s chapter book series, elementary readers will encounter a concise biographical portrait of record-breaking USA Olympic athlete Florence Griffith Joyner. Younger elementary students would best enjoy this quick-paced, in a read-aloud setting, while the storylike format and language of this nonfiction work will appeal to independent readers. Starting from the days Joyner was a young girl surpassing her father’s challenge to race jackrabbits in the Mojave Desert, the chapters chronicle the athlete’s yearslong pursuit of her Olympic dreams. Williams-Garcia represents the facts and events of Joyner’s journey to become a record-breaking, world-renowned Olympian through chronological details, featuring her supportive family home life, economic hardships, training work, and racing competitions over her athletic career, closing with her work with children as co-chair of the 1993 President’s Council on Physical Fitness. The composed narration celebrates Joyner’s life story, drawing clear and particular attention to the athlete’s expressive spirit and self-competitive nature to set her own goals and push herself further while staying true to her own style. The narrative concludes with a brief list of straightforward points for readers to take care of their own well-being like the Olympian did, by eating healthy, being active, and confidently expressing themselves and their dreams.
VERDICT A quietly remarkable biographical read that encourages elementary students of any gender to take a closer look at the life of Olympic sprinter Florence Griffith Joyner and her admirable resolve to work hard in pursuit of her dreams.

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